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His Gigantic Shadow Thrown on a Cloud

The ring was lifted from below and jerked off the hook. Barbarossa’s ring lay at their feet. “Long live Italy!” shouted Andrea. throwing his hat into the air. Nobody said a word. Andrea picked up the ring, handed it to the magistrate and said: “Keep this ring in memory of me and this day, on which you did me a wrong.” He seized Gertrude’s hand and kissed it; climbed up the mountain and disappeared; was seen again and vanished in a cloud. After a while he reappeared, high above them; but this time it was merely his gigantic shadow thrown on a cloud. And there he stood, shaking a threatening fist at the village. “That was Satan himself,” said the colonel. “No, it was an Italian,” said the postmaster.


“What we have heard on this commemoration day seems to prove that the deeds of our forefathers have been engulfed in the ocean of time. One thing swims on the surface, another sinks to the bottom. Here we are sitting like the shadows of our former selves, and to you, who are alive, we must remain shadows. … Put out the lights!”

—August Strindberg, In Midsummer Days And Other Tales

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